Ocean Prime, Denver, November 2018

This is one of those “save the best until last” moments. The conference that I’ve been attending is nearly over, just a few more sessions tomorrow morning. Tonight, we are “out out” and some new friends have chosen Ocean Prime, a small chain that has restaurants in 10 states.

The name comes from its surf’n’turf combination of seafood and steak. Steak restaurants are ten a penny, so I’m definitely after some fish tonight. Which is just as well, as there’s plenty to choose from, including Colorado bass, salmon, halibut, ahi tuna, Florida grouper, lobster, sea scallops, cakes and Chilean sea bass. The steaks look good, but it’s got to be fish.

Which to choose though? The halibut looked interesting but a cauliflower puree didn’t seem to be a pleasant accompaniment. The Colorado bass had the most interestingly named accompaniment in “corn spoon bread” (so called because you scoop it with a spoon). In the end, the teryaki salmon with shiitake sticky rice and soy butter sauce won.


What a great choice it was. Sweet, sticky and slightly smoky. A lovely piece of fish, and by far the best thing I’ve eaten since I’ve been here. Lovely and fresh and perfectly cooked.

There was also a turn on, playing rock and pop covers from the 80s, 90s and some 2000s. The Mark Diamond Duo are regulars here, and their background music made a nice change from the endless sports that have been screening everywhere else.

All of these things add up to a lovely evening out.

A little aside to finish with. One of our party, from Florida, disappeared for quite a while after they had finished their dinner. It turned out that they had been out to buy some “herbal cigarettes”, as Colorado is one of the ten states where the recreational use of cannabis is legal.

The Swan Inn visit #2, Hanley Swan, Worcestershire, August 2018

I’ve said pretty much everything I need to about this pub with Saturday night’s post. We booked the table tonight whilst we were finishing our dinner on Saturday night, which pretty much sums things up. Before we have a quick gander at tonight’s dinner, a quick note on poncy menu pricing. I’ve mentioned this before, but if something costs £6.50, please display it on the menu as £6.50 not 6 1/2. I don’t want to be told that a pudding is 7 3/4, it is £7.75 – why the need for fractions? What does it achieve apart from annoying people?

Anyway, on to dinner, and another beautifully kept pint, this time Butty Bach from Wye Valley Brewery, a classic malty bitter. And in a proper dimple pot too.


More amuse bouche crisps soon came our way…


For main course, something a bit different for me, hot smoked salmon nicoise salad. After the glory of Saturday night’s steak, I had to make a hard decision not to have that again, but it was a good decision as this salad was also glorious. And that’s not something I often say about salads!


Mrs MOFAD had rack of lamb with polenta (another first) and that was also delicious.


Another pudding was in order after more exertions on bikes and on foot today, so this dark chocolate and seville orange fondant with walnut and hazelnut granola and grand marnier and orange ice cream was an indulgent delight, melting in the middle.


A second great meal at this great village pub. If we’re ever in the area again we’ll come here again.

Quorn Country Hotel, December 2017

A Christmas party at a local hotel, one that we’ve not been to for about 15 years. A Christmas party is not rocket science. It’s really easy to get it right, and sadly all too easy to get it wrong. When you stump up a few extra quid for your party (compared to previous years at least), you expect extra quality, be that in food, drink, or service.

When you don’t get that, you feel a bit ripped off. When you get attitude and surliness in response to polite queries, it’s not a sign that you’re going to have a great evening. This is a time of year when those in the hospitality industry are working their hardest and are stressed so you should always cut them some slack, but this was at the start of the evening.

We booked way back in the summer, which gained us free bottles of wine for each table. This actually turned out to be a glass of sparkling wine which had been poured for over an hour, thereby losing fizz and warming up. Great start.

I was designated driver, so just had a bottle of Charnwood beer, with added hotel price mark up.

A salmon starter (I do like a bit of fish) and more fish for main course (did I mention that I like fish). Portions were not exactly huge, and we struggled with enough veg and gravy to go round the table. It was adequate at best, and no-one was blown away.

The chocolate pudding was the best part of it, with some candied physallis to cut through the richness.

Eventually some terrible burnt coffee arrived, and then a pretty rubbish disco ensued. If you’re thinking of having a Christmas party here, I’d look around at some other alternatives.

Triple Salmon Nirvana, March 2017

This is a new one. Regular readers will be aware of triple pork nirvana. Today it was something different. Triple salmon nirvana.

We started our day with smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, usually an Xmas Day breakfast staple, but here expanded to Mrs MOFAD’s birthday breakfast.

For lunch, we had afternoon tea at the Shard, which featured smoked salmon sandwiches:-


We were pretty full after that lunch, and our plans for a pub tea were curtailed. So instead we sought out something to eat on the train home. I opted for this tasty M&S Japanese sushi salmon selection.

This was the perfect way to achieve triple salmon nirvana, although it’s not something I’ll get the chance to do very often I’m sure!

Afternoon tea, Aqua Shard, London, March 2017

We do enjoy a spot of afternoon tea. Normally it’s in slightly more low key surroundings, but today is Mrs MOFAD’s birthday, and we wanted something special to celebrate. I booked this a few months in advance, and even though it was just an “ordinary” Tuesday, it was just as well that I did because it soon got very busy very quickly.

After a relaxed morning of present opening, breakfast and then an easy train journey (despite East Midlands Trains doing their best to spoil it by screwing up their reservations again), we were soon at London Bridge station, and outside the Shard. We stood and gawped for a little while and then entered the gift shop. Let’s get the Shard facts out of the way and then move on to lunch.

The Shard is a 95-storey skyscraper in Southwark, London. It is 309.7 metres (1,016 ft) high, currently the tallest building in the United Kingdom, the fourth tallest building in Europe and the 107th tallest building in the world. That will change soon I’m sure.

The glass-clad pyramidal tower has 72 habitable floors, with a viewing gallery and open-air observation deck on the 72nd floor, at a height of 244.3 metres (802 ft). It was designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano and replaced Southwark Towers, a 24-storey office block built on the site in 1975.

So, there are the facts, let’s move on to our visit. You arrive at the ground floor, after a short stroll from London Bridge station. You can have a look around the gift shop if you’ve got some time to spare. When you’re ready, you are greeted in the lobby, and then your bags go through an airport-style x-ray scanner. Once they pass, you enter the lift and zoom up 31 floors to Aqua Shard.

We ordered the full afternoon tea experience for our lunch, and spent two hours leisurely grazing our way through it, accompanied by a glass of champagne and infinite tea.

Here is the tower of cake (more on those later).

There’s a huge selection of teas to choose from but we kept it trad with some English breakfast style teas, and they just kept on topping them up with as much tea as you want. You can also spot chocolate/meringue lollipops, more on those later too.

A slightly blurry sandwich shot next, some very traditional ones in this line up. Smoked salmon and cream cheese, cheese and pickle, egg, bacon and tomato, and cucumber on rye bread. This was the first plate, another was to follow.

Some cakes next, a light sponge with chocolate and caramel, and a shard of chocolate on the outside. If you have a restaurant in the Shard, you have to have a shard somewhere in your food. You can also see a fruity/moussey/crumbley thing.

No afternoon tea would be complete without freshly baked scones, both plain and with golden raisins. You will note that these are pictured being served correctly, jam first.

More cake? Ok then. A light and fluffy victoria sponge with cream and jam. I’m not sure that the WI would quite approve, but I certainly did.

There has to be a chocolate cake somewhere, and this chocolate brownie with an orange cream was a delicious cocoa-ey bite.

And last but not least, that chocolate meringue lollipop, blurred here to show you the view from the Shard.

The service was relaxed, friendly, unhurried. A comedy French maître d’hôtel kept us entertained, jokingly chastising a junior colleague on a small error, photo-bombing some old ladies’ selfies and just generally keeping things light. No need for lots of starched stuffiness. When you opt for a dining experience like this one, there’s always a worry that you will be made to feel uncomfortable if these surroundings are not places you spend a lot of time in. That was not the case.

Nor were we surrounded by hordes of hooray Henries, which is another potential worry. There were a few corporate lunches going on around us, but the overwhelming majority of tables were filled with couples enjoying a pleasant lunch and relaxing, high above the hustle and bustle of central London.

When the bill arrives (as it inevitably must), it also appears with understated elegance.

And even the view from the toilet is rather splendid.

Just time for one last look down before hopping into the lift and zooming back down to the ground. floor

A fantastic lunch. If you are looking for a special experience for a special occasion, this won’t disappoint. Aqua Shard has put together the right mix of everything to make things feel just right.

Lucy’s on a Plate, Ambleside, January 2017

A change to normal procedures. We find ourselves at Lucy’s on the last night of our holiday, instead of the first. This was by design, as we wanted to indulge on our last night, after plenty of walking.

A simple starter tonight, tasty toasted pittas with houmous, olives and sun dried tomatoes. Light and flavoursome.

Eventually some beer arrived. The Coniston brews were all out of stock (a crime given that they are just a short drive down the A593). I ordered a Hawkshead Lakeland Gold and a Red turned up instead. It had been a long enough wait already, so I had that instead.

On to the main event, a nice piece of crispy skinned salmon with saffron mash, tender stem broccoli and roasted tomatoes. Very nice indeed.

Mrs MOFAD had this very nice prosciutto wrapped chicken dish:-

You have to finish things off with a pudding here, and it was sticky toffee pudding and two spoons. Moist and delicious.

A lovely meal at Lucy’s as usual, we shall always be back. It’s just a matter of when. Another great week in the Lakes comes to an end…

Rose and Crown, Tilshead, September 2016

This is going to be one of those rare posts that does not have a happy ending. It all started happily enough. We were camping nearby (that’s a common sentence for the summer). We had planned to come here for dinner. We had contacted the pub in advance to book a table for fifteen. Would you mind awfully pre-ordering they said. No problem we said. We pre-ordered for fifteen.

We arrived on time and ordered some drinks. A pint of innocence by Plain Ales was my choice, a standard golden ale.

And then 45 minutes later, some pre-ordered porky goodness for Mrs MOFAD, with an Old Rosie cider and apple sauce:-

Fishy goodness for me, supreme of salmon with asparagus and a light creamy cheese sauce:-

Rather a long delay for a pre-ordered set of meals.

The food was good (apart from the lasgne which was a poor effort). The 14 plates that all arrived were good. The fifteenth appeared to have got lost. The pub were adamant that only 14 meals had been ordered. Even when presented with the e-mail that that clearly showed 15 orders. They did relent and cook the missing meal, which eventually arrived after nearly everyone else had finished. But there was no apology. No offer of a free drink. No compensation. No remorse.

We were planning to stay for the rest of the evening, drink some more beer, play some games, have some laughs. But the attitude that we had received didn’t really make us feel like doing that. The waitress and bar staff were lovely, but the landlady was just not interested in her customers.

Very nice food (with one exception), good beer, but a poor attitude make this hard to recommend.